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Bad Tennstedt - town hall
Working as a civil servant in Tennstedt near Langensalza, Novalis met the love of his life Sophie von Kuehn. When they engaged in 1795, Sophie von Kuehn was 13, Novalis 22 years old. Two years later Sophie died.
Novalis dedicated "Hyms to the Night" to Sophie von Kuehn. His other major work "Heinrich von Ofterdingen" is a novel: Set in the context of the mystic singers' war at the Wartburg Castle near Eisenach, the novel describes the medieval poet's journey and search for the "blue flower" of Romanticism.
Novalis died of consumption at the age of 29.
From Novalis: Hymns to the Night, translated by Georg MacDonald
Once when I was shedding bitter tears, when, dissolved in pain, my hope was melting away, and I stood alone by the barren mound which in its narrow dark bosom hid the vanished form of my life-
lonely as never yet was lonely man, driven by anxiety unspeakable, powerless, and no longer anything but a conscious misery-
As there I looked about me for help, unable to go on or to turn back, and clung to the fleeting, extinguished life with and endless longing-
then out of the blue distances - from the hills of my ancient bliss, came a shiver of twilight - and at once snapt the bond of birth, the chains of the light.
Away fled the glory of the world, and with it my mourning; the sadness flowed together into a new, unfathomable world. Thou, soul of the night, heavenly slumber, didst come upon me - the region gently unheaved itself;
over it hovered my unbound, newborn spirit. The mound became a cloud of dust, and through the cloud I saw the glorified face of my beloved.
In her eyes eternity reposed - I laid hold of her hands, and the tears became a sparkling bond that could not be broken.
Into the distance swept by, like a tempest, thousands of years. On her neck I welcomed the new life with ecstatic tears-
Never was such another dream, then first and ever since I hold fast an eternal unchangeable faith in the heaven of the night, and its light, the beloved.
translation by George MacDonald